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Every day, more and more families throughout our region lose their homes because they have lost their job, or can’t afford unexpectedly larger mortgage payments. As unemployment increases, adjustable rate mortgages re-set and property values fall, homeowners at all ends of the economic spectrum find themselves facing the prospect of foreclosure. In Montgomery County alone more than 41,000 homes have been foreclosed in the last ten years, burdening neighborhoods and local governments with vacant properties that invite crime and lower property values even further.In response to the crisis that is threatening our neighborhoods and cities, ThinkTV , in partnership with WYSO, is launching Facing the Mortgage Crisis, a community engagement initiative designed to connect area residents to trusted foreclosure prevention resources. Building on their role as public media organizations, ThinkTV and WYSO are working with a variety of community service organizations to connect those in need with those who can help. Commercial media partners, including the Dayton Daily News, WHIO Channel 7 and Cox Radio will help tell the story of the mortgage crisis and reach the broadest possible audience.Facing the Mortgage Crisis launches June 15. Every day through August, ThinkTV will broadcast a series of 10 informative on-air spots, each one answering the questions most frequently asked by homeowners, such as, “Am I in danger of losing my home?” and “Can I get money to help make a payment?” The spots will feature United Way’s HelpLink 2-1-1 as the number to call for assistance.In July, ThinkTV and WHIO-TV will simulcast an hour-long special, also called Facing the Mortgage Crisis. The program explores the issues closest to homeowners who are threatened with foreclosure, including how to negotiate with the lender if you’re in danger of missing payments, how to handle phone calls and notices from lenders, how to keep track of pertinent paperwork, and when to seek assistance. During the second half-hour of the program experts will respond to viewer calls and e-mail. E-mailed questions may be submitted in advance at mortgage@thinktv.org. The program will also be rebroadcast on ThinkTV 16, as well as digital channels. In the weeks leading up to the broadcast, Cox Radio will air news reports and features.ThinkTV’s public media partner WYSO will produce and broadcast Public Service Announcements in June and July. WYSO will also produce in-depth news features about the mortgage crisis in the Miami Valley. The news reports will air within the NPR programs “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”Three live call-in programs are scheduled for three Thursdays in July. The first will be on July 16th at 7pm following the popular business program Marketplace. An expert panel will answer questions relating to the issues of foreclosure, mortgage financing, scams to look out for and the agencies available in the local area for help. Advance emails may be submitted to news@wyso.org, subject line “mortgage.”Web content will support and reinforce broadcast efforts and will provide listeners with a forum for ideas, comments and feedback.In order to inform WYSO’s reporting and planning, community partner meetings will be held. The date of the first meeting was Tuesday, June 2nd, at the WYSO studios in Yellow Springs.Together, WYSO, WHIO-TV, Cox Radio and ThinkTV will provide a coordinated broadcast effort, supported by on-line resources and community events.The Dayton Daily News, in collaboration with ThinkTV and WYSO will host the project’s culminating event: a panel discussion that explores the local impact of the mortgage crisis. The panel, to be scheduled in August, will be hosted by Dayton Daily News Editor Kevin Riley and made available for streaming on partner web sites.Additional resources will be found on ThinkTV’s Facing the Mortgage Crisis Web site at www.thinktv.org.

Financial Fitness

Community organizations around the Miami Valley are offering foreclosure counseling and financial literacy classes.  In Clark County, the foreclosure rate continues to rise and experts say it is likely to for the foreseeable future, WYSO's Juliet Fromholt has the story of what one Springfield organization is doing to educate people about their mortgages, their homes and their Financial fitness.

A quiet Springfield neighborhood is a great place for a family. Jamie Bowshier is a single father in his mid-30's. He says that there's something special his house.

"For me, it's a comfort thing. I've lived there for the last, probably, eight years now,and its just become my home. My kids like it there, I like it there. There are a lot of benefits to owning your place."

But like many people in the Miami Valley, Bowshier has suffered setbacks including divorce and reduced hours at work resulting in financial strain for him and his family. Soon he realized that he was facing the fact that he could lose his home to foreclosure. So he called his lender.

"It seems like every time I would call the mortgage company instead of getting loan officers I was getting customer service reps. And they always wanted to tell me 'you just have to catch up your payments.' They didn't really know what it was I had to do or who to put me into contact with," says Bowshier.

"It's Like a Fresh Start"

Bowshier wasn't able to reach anyone to get a solution right away so he turned to a woman named Kim Sprinkle.

Sprinkle is a foreclosure prevention counselor with the Neighborhood Housing Partnership of Greater Springfield, a Neighborworks organization that offers free Bowshier calls her office, the first thing she goes over with them is the documentation that they need to bring in.

"We have them bring in information that the lender is going to request - a couple months bank statements, pay stubs, hardship letter explaining their situation - a lot of people get hung up on that and they don't know what to write. So basically they put down what has happened to get them in that situation," says Sprinkle.

Once Sprinkle received Bowshier's paperwork, she was able to contact his lender and negotiate a work-out

"She's worked with the loan company and she's helped me to get an agreement with them to where I could actually catch up my payments and get everything to where I could actually the mortgage every month," says Bowshier.

Bowshier's work-out was one version of a lender-borrower negotiation that counselors such as Sprinkle can arrange if the borrower meets the requirements.

"They've been doing what's called a loan modification where they take the past due payments and move them to the end of the loan. Like say you're behind on eight payments, they'll just tack that on to the end. So it's kind of like a fresh start. People get back on track that way," says Sprinkle.

"There Are a Lot of Things That It Would Have Been Good to Know"

Kim Sprinkle helped Jamie Bowshier see things that were affecting his loan that he hadn't thought of before, such as the fact that it was co-signed by his spouse years ago. Bowshier realizes that there are many issues that he should have considered before owning a home.

"There are a lot of things that it would have been good to know as a first time home buyer that I really wasn't aware of, and I know there are classes that people can take for first time home buyers. I actually recommend that people do that because you can get into a lot of trouble buying a house and know not what you're doing - going into it blind - it makes it kind of rough," says Bowshier.

"The School of Hard Knocks"

There is a class in financial fitness held every Monday afternoon at the Clark County Department of Job and Family Services. Instructor Fred Blair teaches a curriculum that consists of financial planning, credit, savings, and taxes. The class is well attended by people from all walks of life and income brackets.

"Most of us have learned through the school of hard knocks. When you make a bad mistake with money, you say okay I know I'm doing that wrong. That's typically the training that most of us have had," says Blair.

Classes such as Blair's are designed to address many underlying issues which may prevent future financial trouble.

"The studies are that if someone gets into the classes prior to getting a loan, we're not seeing those people in foreclosure because they're getting all the education they need to know prior to. Because a lot of people walk into this blindsided - they have no clue what's going on," says Kim Sprinkle.

"You don't take into account that the pipes are going to leak or the water heater's going to go out - you've got to replace that, the roof will leak - you've got to replace that. The only thing you can say about rainy days or emergencies is they're going to happen. The way that you're prepared for them is what's going to make a difference," says Blair.

Both Fred Blair and Kim Sprinkle believe that financial planning classes which look at a family's or individual's financial situation as a whole are essential in addressing the foreclosure crisis in Clark County.